'Elf On The Shelf': Meet The Co-Creator Of The Cheeky Christmas Imp And Learn How It Came About

‘Elf on the Shelf’ has swept the nation throughout December for the past few years, with parents pulling their hair out trying to think of new places to position the doll. 

Back in 2005, Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, from the US, published the first ever ‘The Elf on the Shelf’ book, having come up with the tradition at home.

They started selling the books from the backs of cars and reached out to family and friends they thought might want to adopt the tradition.

Eleven years later, it’s pretty hard to go on your Facebook timeline without seeing photos of the ‘Elf on the Shelf’, which is great for inspiration from other parents or hilarious NSFW ideas not suitable for kids’ eyes. 

We caught up with Chanda Bell to find out how the tradition turned into the phenomenon it is today. 

The Elf on the Shelf

Chanda Bell. 

When did the idea of The Elf on the first come about?

We grew up with this tradition in our home. When we were children our Scout Elf, Fisbee, would come to our home and look over our family each year. I have such wonderful childhood memories with Fisbee.

I remember racing with my brother and sister to see who could find Fisbee first each morning, I would share secrets with him and let him know what I wanted for Christmas. It really was a holiday tradition that our family enjoyed doing together. 

The Elf on the Shelf

Later down the road (in 2004), after we were all grown up, I was having a cup of tea with my mum [Carol Aebersold], when the idea first came to us.

At the time, my mum had been feeling a little down and was going through some health issues. It was in that moment that it occurred to me: “Mum, why don’t we write the story of our family elf?”.

We thought this would not only be a fun project for us to work on together but also a wonderful opportunity to share this story and tradition with other families. So, she and I wrote ‘The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition’ (with Santa’s permission, of course).

After we wrote the…

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